Oil Exports Bring Boom Times To Texas Port

A surge in production in the Permian Basin of west Texas—-already the nation’s highest producing oilfield — is extracting more crude oil than refiners in Texas can handle. But now, producers in the Permian have new outlets for that oil with economic implications hundreds of miles away from the flatlands of west Texas. Based on crude oil export projections, port officials say they expect to add 5000 direct and indirect jobs in 2017. 

“This is not a bubble, this is real growth,” said vessel traffic controller Mike Stineman, as he scanned real time navigation charts indicating vessel traffic at the port. Radio chatter between vessels, the Coast Guard and the Vessel Control Center provided a non-stop soundtrack of the the pulse of the port. A longtime ban on U.S. crude exports was lifted last year.

A Boom In Oil Thefts In The Permian

Oil drilling and production in the many parts of the country is booming again. But in the Permian Basin of west Texas, the boom has a byproduct that producers are considerably less excited about: oil theft. The Houston-based Energy Security Council estimates that this year alone, Texas companies will lose between 10 to 30 million barrels of oil to theft, a revenue loss of $450 million to nearly $1.5 billion at today’s prices.

Oil and Gas Development Dims Starry Skies

Oil and gas development involves a lot of bright lights: from flares to drilling rigs to new housing for workers. That’s a concern for star gazers, who have documented an increase in light pollution in oilfields in North Dakota and West Texas. Hear how an observatory in Texas an a national park in North Dakota are trying to tackle the oilfield light pollution problem.

Texas Weighs Waste

Nuclear waste is not popular in any neighborhood. In West Texas, there’s a battle underway over a plan to create a above ground storage facility for high level waste. Its a bigger problem than West Texas – the nation’s nuclear power plants are quickly running out of room to store the waste. This region has had a long and often contentious relationship with nuclear waste, stretching back to a years-long battle over a planned permanent waste site in the 1980’s and 90’s. Opponents eventually won that fight, but a different site was later built in the Permian Basin.